Refreshed after a sensational performance at his home break, Merewether young gun Morgan Cibilic will face returning three-time World Surf League (WSL) champion Mick Fanning in the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona, which starts this week.
The Aussie legend has been awarded a wildcard for the event, the third stop on the WSL 2021 Championship Tour (CT).
But, he won’t get it all his own way.
Fanning meets reigning WSL titleholder Italo Ferreira (BRA) and Cibilic in the men’s seeding round one heat six when the competition gets underway.
The Brazilian, following a victory at the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup presented by Corona at the weekend, and Cibilic, with a career-best third place, will bring their Newcastle momentum when they come up against the surfing icon.
CT rookie Cibilic caught everyone’s attention at Merewether Beach when he eliminated John John Florence and fellow local Ryan Callinan on his way to a semi-final berth – all with a broken toe.
However, Fanning, taking part in his first CT event since retiring in 2018, knows he has his work cut out for him.
“I am excited to be back in a jersey,” he said.
“I haven’t really had a challenge in the past few years.
“I injured my knee in 2019 and then have been working towards getting a level of fitness and level of surfing that I was happy with.
“I’ve been training and working to get my knee back to 100%.
“I wanted to get my surfing back to a level that I was happy with, as well.
“I feel like I am getting there.
“I’ve been working pretty hard in the last few months just personally, and then having this goal to be ready for this event has definitely kickstarted a bit of fire in there.”
Novocastrian Callinan lines up against Michel Bourez (FRA) and Leonardo Fioaravanti (ITA).
The event window for the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic presented by Corona opens on Friday 16 April.
Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic Women’s seeding round 1 match-ups:
- Heat 1: Stephanie Gilmore (AUS), Malia Manuel (HAW), Brisa Hennessy (CRI)
- Heat 2: Caroline Marks (USA), Tyler Wright (AUS), Macy Callaghan (AUS)
- Heat 3: Carissa Moore (HAW), Nikki Van Dijk (AUS), Laura Enever (AUS)
- Heat 4: Sally Fitzgibbons (AUS), Johanne Defay (FRA), Sage Erickson (USA)
- Heat 5: Lakey Peterson (USA), Isabella Nichols (AUS), Keely Andrew (AUS)
- Heat 6: Tatiana Weston-Webb (BRA), Courtney Conlogue (USA), Bronte Macaulay (AUS)
- Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic Men’s seeding round 1 match-ups:
- Heat 1: Kanoa Igarashi (JPN), Yago Dora (BRA), Connor O’Leary (AUS)
- Heat 2: John John Florence (HAW), Frederico Morais (PRT), Alex Ribeiro (BRA)
- Heat 3: Filipe Toledo (BRA), Adriano de Souza (BRA), Mikey Wright (AUS)
- Heat 4: Jordy Smith (ZAF), Adrian Buchan (AUS), Reef Heazlewood (AUS)
- Heat 5: Gabriel Medina (BRA), Jadson Andre (BRA), Dylan Moffat (AUS)
- Heat 6: Italo Ferreira (BRA), Morgan Cibilic (AUS), Mick Fanning (AUS)
- Heat 7: Jeremy Flores (FRA), Peterson Crisanto (BRA), Ethan Ewing (AUS)
- Heat 8: Ryan Callinan (AUS), Michel Bourez (FRA), Leonardo Fioaravanti (ITA)
- Heat 9: Owen Wright (AUS), Seth Moniz (HAW), Matthew McGillivray (ZAF)
- Heat 10: Julian Wilson (AUS), Conner Coffin (USA), Miguel Pupo (BRA)
- Heat 11: Jack Freestone (AUS), Wade Carmichael (AUS), Deivid Silva (BRA)
- Heat 12: Griffin Colapinto (USA), Caio Ibelli (BRA), Jack Robinson (AUS)